Synopsis from goodreads.com:
Embrace the Forbidden
What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?
This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.
Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but Anna, the ultimate good girl, has always had the advantage of her angel side to balance the darkness within. It isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.
Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?
My thoughts on the book:
Sweet Evil is an emotional roller coaster that you won't want to end. In the overcrowded fallen angel genre, Sweet Evil is unique and stands out from the rest. The plot is intriguing, the characters are complex, the descriptions are perfect, the world-building is fantastic, the dialogue is natural, and her writing is terrific. Higgins is a strong new voice in YA literature, and I cannot wait to read the sequel to this book.
Somehow Higgins managed to come up with a fallen angel story that had not been told before. I have read a lot of fallen angel books because it's one of my favorite genres, and I have never read about a world quite like this one. The different demon Dukes of all of the sins was a nice touch, and the nephilim, children of the Dukes who were forced into a life of servitude of committing their fathers' sins of choice, was intriguing. However, nothing in the Sweet Evil world is that clear cut. Some of the Dukes aren't too terrible while others are horrifyingly awful. Some of the nephs (what the nephilim called themselves) do not want to commit sins, and some relish in the acts. Also, some of the "good" angels break rules. Anna is living proof of that. She's half angel and half demon, and her character is the embodiment of good versus evil. She feels the pull toward her sin, but she does not want to commit it. Higgins shows that nephs, angels, and demons, like humanity, are not all good or all bad. With the story being told from Anna's first person POV, it is easy to see how complicated this world is because Anna always sees the good in everyone. If there is any good there at all, she'll find it.
Anna is a terrific narrator, and she has a strong voice. She is a trustworthy narrator, and even though she is a goody goody, her story is not boring. Her take on the world is refreshing. She's strong, intelligent, and capable. She was able to teach herself everything about being a neph even before she knew what she was or what to do with her extra abilities. She does not mope, and she is very self-aware. It was nice to read from her perspective. She's no Bella Swan, that's for sure.
Kaidan is probably my favorite character, and he is the most complex. He has done some terrible things because he is a neph, but I still couldn't help but feel for him. He is good deep down, but he's also a survivor. To be a survivor in the world of the neph, it appears that one has to go against his nature and commit atrocious acts to keep his father happy. Kaidan is a strong leading male character, though, and it's obvious that he always tries to do what he thinks is best. He makes some dumb decisions, and I wanted to smack him a few times, but I could always see where he was coming from. He's extremely interesting because of his conflicting personality, and I really hope to see more of him in the sequel.
The secondary characters, including Patti (Anna's adopted mom) are all unique, realistic, and identifiable. I didn't like most of the Dukes, but I wasn't supposed to. However, it was easy to keep everyone straight. Each person has his or her own personality and quirks, but none of these quirks were overly pronounced. They all made sense and fit well into the story and the characters. The dialogue was strong, and each character's voice was easy to distinguish. Even though the majority of the characters are British and Southern, the dialect wasn't flooded with colloquial words and phonetically spelled dialogue. However, I could still hear the accents in my head. That is how dialogue is supposed to be done. It really annoys me when authors do phonetic spellings of accents. It ruins the entire story for me, so I'm glad that Higgins avoided that common pitfall.
The descriptions of places and people were perfect. I never had to wonder what anything or anyone looked like, but Higgins left enough out that I was also able to use my imagination. The world-building was also spot-on. There weren't any info dumps, and even though most of the information was dispensed during conversations, the conversations never were simply for world-building and plot purposes. There were always underlying issues going on in the conversations. The discussions between characters showed how they felt about each other and their situations, even if the characters themselves didn't actually say what they were feeling, as much as they gave information.
Higgins seems to be a master of showing instead of telling. I never felt like anything in the book was being told to me. Instead, I felt that this new and interesting world was being shown to me. I could feel sympathy, and sometimes empathy, for the characters, and even though Anna is the main character and narrator, much of the story focused on those around her instead of just on her and how she felt. I really loved how she could see the emotions of others and relayed them to the reader by describing the colors. Also, the pacing was perfect. Even though this book is over 450 pages, I read it in all one sitting. It was a quick read, and nothing ever felt rushed or too slow. The ending answered most of the questions that the novel asked, but there is room for a sequel (which I can't wait for).
Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone. Sweet Evil is guaranteed to draw you into this world of sin and not let you go until the very last page, and then you'll be begging for more. You will lose some sleep with this book, but it is so worth it.
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